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GP Week : Issue 155
World Rally Championship Commission President Jarmo Mahonen has explained the FIA’s discontent at many aspects of the traditional rounds of the world championship. Notably in the firing line of the FIA’s discontent is Rally GB, on account of the small number of spectators who can see the cars in Wales: “This is the second year the FIA has had to express its unhappiness at the format of the event,” said Mahonen, left above.. This opinion underlines the wish of the FIA for a return to the old-fashioned round-the- country event format. Regarding the refusal of Rally GB to increase its (overall or individual) stage length like other events, WRC manager Michele Mouton, above right, said that there could be acceptable reasons for some events to be shorter. Also directly in the FIA’s line of fire is the Italian championship round, which will be held again in Sardinia: “The problem concerns the rally being run on the island. The federation has been told by the FIA this will be absolutely the final time the WRC event will be run in Sardinia.” Regarding the position of other specific events, Mahonen said that Portugal has a very good rally but in the wrong place. “The FIA want the event back in the north of the country, and the organisers have said that they are ready to leave the Algarve.” Regarding Argentina, Mahonen said that if the FIA decide to go to Brazil, there is a risk to the continued championship position of the traditional South American event in Argentina: “There is no FIA intention to run the two events close to each other; we want events in different continents.” Regarding Japan, the FIA have been told the country cannot be involved in the WRC until 2014, on account of the country’s recent tragic disasters. As for the alternation between Australia and New Zealand, Mahonen and Mouton said the championship must go to a country somewhere in the Pacific region. And thinking about Jordan, the sport needs an event in the Middle East and it was a pity this does not happen on account of local disputes. at BRIEFLY » Delays in approving production figures have been given as the reason for the delay in homologation of the Lotus Exige S as the first car admitted in the new Class 4 R-GT category. Lotus say they believe the rules for the category are being modified and will be ratified at the World Council meeting on June 15. One of the matters under discussion is the number of cars that are needed to be built in order to be homologated. FIA sources believe the minimum production is 300 units. » The FIA has proposed a greater tolerance in the diameter of the turbine blades of turbochargers, from 0.1mm to 0.3 mm following the suggestion of ‘creeping’ in the diameter of the blades on Mikko Hirvonen’s Citroen in Portugal. There had been widespread fears among the teams that creeping meant that it was unsafe to re-fit previously used turbos, notwithstanding that these turbochargers are from a controlled supplier. Ford personnel suggested that the turbine blades do not actually ‘creep’ and maybe the Citroen problem was more in quality control. » The latest position regarding a possible WRC event in Brazil is that a candidate rally is planned for October. The Brazilian federation (CBA) has been given a 40 day window for formulating their proposals after which they must name the promoting authorities and the location where the event will be held - or withdraw from their bid. At the moment, there is space only for one new event in the 2013 series. » It is confirmed that the agreement between the FIA and Nokia as sponsor for the WRC has ended, and that the Acropolis Rally was the final time they have worked together. RALLY GB AND ITALY UNDER THE FIA MICROSCOPE With the FIA whipping up interest in thoughts of new rallies entering the WRC in 2013, it is interesting to discover the practicalities. FIA WRCC President Jarmo Mahonen has emphasized that progress regarding a candidate rally is now entirely in the hands of the Brazil Motorsport Federation CBA. When the WRC flirted with Brazil in 1981 and 1982, difficulties with the national federation was instrumental in the project coming to a premature end. One person with feet on the WRC ground as well as in Brazilian rallying is Portugal Mini team driver Paulo Nobre (above). Does he think the Brazilian federation will make it possible to have a world championship rally? "If we have to rely on the Brazilian federation, forget about a WRC event in our country. They don't give any support to rally or any support even to cross-country. Our rally championship in Brazil is dangerously ill, like it is in the intensive care in hospital, almost dying. “So I think if one day the WRC goes to Brazil it will be because some sponsor will make it happen. Our people there really, really love rallying, especially the enthusiasts from places like Erechim, we will want to fight for the WRC. "But if we just wait for the Brazilian federation, forget it. They completely forget that rally and cross country exist, which is why our rallying and our cross country sport is almost like dead." "Brazil has no chance" WRC >>> NEWS 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: